Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Lee Kuan Yew

Name: Lee Kuan Yew

Date of birth: 16 September 1923

Organization: Parliament of Singapore

Designation:  Member of Parliament (Singapore's First Prime Minster)

Education: University of Cambridge Double Starred (double First Class Honours) Law

Lee Kuan Yew is a Singapore Politician. Often being recognise as “Founding Father of Modern Singapore”, he is also one of the most influential politician figures in Asia. Lee was Singapore's first Prime Minster of Singapore, with his successful ministerial position over 50 years, acknowledge him as history’s longest serving ministers, and finally on 14 may 2011 he officially announced his retirement from the cabinet after the general election in 2011.

Lee was born as British subjects, studied at Raffle’s College, and later further his studies at University of Cambridge majoring in law, graduating with Double Starred First Class Honours. Upon returning from his studies, he worked under a law firm as a legal advisor to the trade union, which later expose him to step into politics. He had gone through the four era of Singapore, from the colony of British, to the Japanese Occupation, thirdly the Malaysia ruling after the World War Two and finally the independent state Singapore. 

Leading Singapore from third world to first world metropolitan city

November 12 1954, Lee and a group English-educated, formed the PAP. There were mixtures of different members, which consist of pro-communist and non-communist members, both party needed each other’s supports at that time to “break free” from the British ruling. In the national elections on 30 May 1959, PAP won 43 of 51 seats in the legislative assembly. Singapore gained self-government in all state matters except for defense and foreign affairs, Lee then became the first Prime Minister of Singapore on 3 June 1959.

During 1961, Lee decided to join Malaysia and form a federation which include Malaya, Singapore, Sabah, and Sarawak in order to end the colonial ruling under the British.  However, this federation did not stay long, due to a conflict between the Chinese and the Malays which then cases a race riot. In order to end the tension, the only solution is to pull out from the federation, at this point of time, Singapore was not ready to separate from Malaysia. Lee was against the ideal of separating, but he also understands that the secession was inevitable to minimize further bloodshed. Leaving with no choice, Lee decided to sign a separation agreement on 7 August 1965 which discussed about Singapore post separations with Malaysia in order to continue cooperation in areas such as trade, and mutual defense. Finally on 9 August 1965, Lee officially announced the separation, and full independence of Singapore.

This period might be the lowest period in Lee’s life, facing three main concerns such as national security, economic, and social issue. On the other hand, this is also the tuning period for Singapore success brought by Lee. Being a very weak new born country, Lee began to seek international recognition of Singapore’s independence by joining the United Nation on 21 September 1965.  At the same time, Lee ask Goh Keng Swee (Singapore first minster for interior and Defense) to build the Singapore Arm Forces (SAF), and requested for help from other countries, for advice, training and facilities. Lee also makes it compulsory for all able bodies Singapore male age 18 and above to serve National Service. Lee always placed importance in developing Singapore economy, his meticulous attention to this aspect was so extensive that he had to tend to the Singapore national image of being a “Garden City”, something that had been sustain till today. 

Lee also introduce legislation giving the Corrupt Practice Investigation Bureau (CPIB) greater authority to conduct arrest, investigating bank account, income tax return of suspected person and their families to ease corruptions. He also believes that ministers should be well paid in order to maintain a clean and honest government. In 1994, Lee propose to link salaries of ministers, judges, and top civil servants to salaries of top professionals in the private sector, to help to recruit and retain talent to serve in the public sector. On 28 November 1990, Lee finally step down, handing over his prime ministership to Goh Chok Tong, Lee, as then the world’s longest serving prime minister, and it was also the first leadership transition sine independent. 

At this point of time, Lee remained still remain in the cabinet, with a non-executive position of Senior Minster, and play a role as advisory. He was then ascended to the title of Minister Mentor created by his son Lee Hsien Loong, who is now the third Prime Minister of Singapore. On 14 May 2011, Lee decided to leave the cabinet for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his team to have clean slate.

Leadership Style
  • Transformational
As we can see from above, the way he leads Singapore into independence and transforming it from a small settlement from the British colony to one of the most developed state in Asia today, solely depending on its people as the only natural resource.

  • Charismatic
His promise to his people to lead Singapore out from foreign ruling, and colonial domination was fulfilled, not only did he kept his promise to his people, he did it by excelling the expectation. Lee is definitely someone, who people wants to instantly follow.

  • Autocratic
By looking at the policies he had made, Lee definitely is able to make decision alone, and having full authority to lead his followers.

  • People-oriented
His act of stepping down from being the prime minister to being an advisor, and finally step out of the cabinet. Shows that he is a people oriented leader, who is able to effectiveness and efficiency supports, trains, and develops his followers.

Hence, Lee indeed display traits of a Transformational, Charismatic, Autocratic, and People-oriented leader which why he is widely respect and praised by many Singaporeans, and other world leader.

We have learnt that communications is essential for a leader to lead the team. There are many kinds of communication. For example Mr. Lee Kuan Yew uses the non-verbal communication to maintain the brotherly hood of Singapore and Malaysia by making the national language of Singapore Malay, although the common that we speak is English. This was to maintain the peace and stability of Singapore, as mention that the separation was due to race riot. It was a non-verbal means to show that Singapore is willing to keep in a good relationship with Malaysia although we have separated, we wants to keep this brotherhood of both country strong so that the citizen will remain and stay in the peaceful era. And this non-verbal communication was proven to be effective as even after the separation there is no major dispute over both countries regarding racial problem. 

During his stint of being the leaders of Singapore, he travel around to overseas for social visit, this is one of the most common ways of showing communications act, leader will need to travel around to build a good relationship with other countries, so that we will be connected and build mutual trust. We can see communication a basic thing that we are doing every day, but however if a wrong signal is being send over, disaster might happen. It is very important that during all kind of communication, we are sending the correct information over. Imagine if Mr. Lee, make Chinese language as the National language, because majority of Singapore is Chinese, what would the consequences be? Needless to say, other races will feel that they are not being treated fairly and another race riot might occur. Hence, in conclusion, it is essential to be able to communicate effectively, it is the most important skills for everyone to master.

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